Mike Gold: Mad Max – Back In The Desert Again!
Today’s Zen question: Can a movie be called a sequel even if it has a cast that hadn’t been in the earlier three movies but it stars the same lead character and the worldview remains consistent with those movies and all four movies have the same director, but the last one was released 30 years ago?
Today’s Zen answer: Who the hell cares? Mad Max: Fury Road is an absolutely terrific movie.
I saw this epic with my ComicMix comrade Martha Thomases and our mutual pal, Michigan’s own Penelope Ruchman. It was the beginning of an amazingly astonishing pop entertainment day; I’d give you those details but you know how I absolutely hate to name-drop. I won’t speak for Martha or Penny except to say that Martha enjoyed the movie at least as much as I did and I believe Penny liked it even more. Yes, it really is the Gone With The Wind of action movies, except instead of torching Atlanta they trashed several megatons of George Metzger-esque decrepit vehicles traveling across the desert to… well, to nowhere. Action ensues.
And that’s about it for the plot. Usually, that is not a good sign. Here, somehow, it works. If somebody pitched this to me as a graphic novel I’d have rejected it – but on the screen, in George Miller’s more-than-capable hands, it soars. I did not notice one person in the crowded Manhattan theater leaving for food or a bathroom break. That’s better than “two thumbs up,” particularly when damn near the entire movie was set in the desert. You’d think people would need some water or soda or a Slurpee or something.
Tom Hardy is fine as Max. The role isn’t overwhelmingly dependent upon acting chops, but when needed Tom delivers. The true star of this movie, in every conceivable way, is Charlize Theron. She plays the other title character, Imperator Furiosa. She is the heart and the soul of the movie but, to the regret of a few morons, she and her women companions also carry the brunt of the action. They carry it right to your lap.
There’s a bit of a controversy contrived by these aforementioned morons about how Mad Max: Fury Road emasculates men. There is a phrase for this attitude: neurotic bullshit. If this movie made their balls shrivel up and fall to the ground, trust me: society is better off.
There’s a long-standing meme in Hollywood about how women can’t carry an action movie. Executives point to truly shitty movies such as Catwoman, Elektra, and Supergirl. It doesn’t occur to the cigar-chompers that if you rewrote these movies for a male lead, they would be just as shitty and only marginally more income-active. I have three things to say to these people:
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- Greenlight the fucking Black Widow movie already.
Mad Max: Fury Road was co-written by comics great Brendan McCarthy, of 2000 AD fame. Particularly of Judge Dredd fame. The parallels between the Mad Max series and Dredd are, well, overwhelming. Jus’ sayin’. I thought Mick McMahon should have received royalties for The Road Warrior, but it is a great movie. Just like Road Fury.
This movie was so relentless and so compelling that even George Eastman’s parents should be proud.
Go see it. But first, stop by the ridiculously overpriced candy counter and buy vast quantities of consumable liquid. This time, it’s actually worth the money.